All is fair in love and war, but sometimes it doesn't feel that way. On the season 3 finale of Married at First Sight, the two remaining couples decided whether they wanted to stay together or get a divorce. (As fans know, David Norton and Ashley Doherty ended their union in last week's episode.) Here's how the tense relationship drama played out.
Tres and Vanessa Face Their Biggest Fear
It was no secret that Tres Russell and Vanessa Nelson both feared abandonment above all else, each having been left by someone they loved while still growing up. Over the course of their six weeks in the experiment, that deep fear reared its ugly head on more than one occasion, at one point causing Vanessa to practically move out overnight.
The morning of their final decision, both were clearly nervous. They held hands in the car ride to the meeting with spiritual advisor Greg Epstein and Dr. Pepper Schwartz, but it seemed more like they were clinging to each other for dear life than showing affection.
Asked what they had each learned from the experience, Vanessa said she realized that marriage was a constant compromise, while Tres noted that their natural response to conflict was simply to walk away — and that was something they had really worked on together.
When the time came to put their hearts on their sleeves, Vanessa went first. "I am really happy that we made it to this point, and I feel like we've done a lot of hard work together, and I think that we should be really proud of ourselves for everything that we've been through and that we've survived," she began. "I think you're a wonderful person, but my decision is — I would like to stay married."
Tres then jumped in. "We've had our ups, and then we've had a few downs, but I definitely know that this has been a very stressful process for the both of us, and I appreciate you saying yes," he explained. "I agree with you, and I want to give it a shot." Cue the happy music!
Tres and Vanessa kissed as Schwartz and Epstein rejoiced in their success. Clearly relieved, Vanessa then confessed to the camera, "Now that we have decided to stay married, our energy and our focus can all just be toward making the marriage a success instead of, 'If I do this, are we going stay married?' or 'If I do that, is he not going to want to be married?'" She laughed and added, "He's stuck with me now."
Sam Calls Herself an Evil Bitch … Does Neil Agree?
Though Sam Role made it pretty clear she wanted to stay together, Neil Bowlus found himself on the fence. As they lay in bed, Neil reflected, "I've never been in a relationship that has had so many ups and downs." This prompted Sam to ask if he thought they'd had more ups than downs in the last few weeks, and Neil said that they had. Sam seemed bolstered by that comment, but her optimism seemed to fade between that moment and when they walked into the meeting room.
Again, the experts asked the couple what they had learned from the experiment — and Sam was ready with her answer. "I have learned about myself that I was an evil bitch when I first met you, and that I did not manage myself properly," she said with a laugh (though it was obvious she wasn't joking). "If it wasn't for you coming into my life, then I never would have become this better person, understanding how to deal with issues like that for myself and also how to communicate them in an effective way and not a destructive way." Neil agreed that his biggest lesson had been about communication, but he wasn't as effusive as she had been.
Then it was time to say their piece, and Sam went first. "It's been difficult, but yet rewarding because I feel that I've become a better person, and I couldn't have become this better person if it weren't for you," she said. "I think that the past few weeks that we've had together have been more ups than downs, and I think that to have some downs is normal in any relationship, whether you're friends or married or just a family relationship — but the positive have outweighed the negative for me, and I cherish you." She took a deep breath and added, "I cherish you as a person, and I cherish you as my husband, and for that reason, I do not want a divorce. I would like to stay married."
Neil didn't say anything in response, and Sam broke down in tears, crying: "What frightens me the most is that he's going to ask for a divorce, and I'm going to deserve it." Then the soft-spoken Neil finally spoke up.
"Like you, I'm still amazed by the journey that we've been on. The amount that I've learned about myself about you to see those changes has been remarkable, and there's no way that we would be where we're at now without being with each other," he reflected. "For me, there was a strong feeling that I had that something was missing from you, but it was a strong gut feeling that I had, and the big thing that I've been swaying on the past week has been the influences of the good, the influences of the bad, and how all that made me feel. And ultimately, thinking about it and speaking to the experts, it is clear, I am completely committed." Sam perked up at that — but then Neil added, "I want to get a divorce."
Understandably, Sam was beyond crushed and ran out back into the parking lot sobbing. Schwartz went out to comfort her, but there's only so much to be done for a girl whose heart was just broken into bits on TV.
Real Life Begins
Back home, the couples prepared to resume "real life." David and Ashley made their way through their house packing up their things. Mysteriously, this was the moment Ashley decided she wanted to talk — but David was done talking. "I was chasing someone who didn't want to be caught," he sighed to the camera as he left.
In contrast, Tres and Vanessa found themselves basking in the glow of wedded bliss. Tres presented Nola (Vanessa's dog) with a gift to make their new family official. "I feel like our marriage is beginning today," Vanessa said with a gleaming smile.
As for Neil and Sam, they actually managed to have a very friendly, civilized conversation the next day. He reiterated how bad he'd felt, and she reassured him she was OK. "My life will go on. The world does continue to turn," she said with a shrug before sprinting out the door.
The season's final thought came from Dr. Logan Levkoff, who reflected, "Even though it didn't work out, the fact is people were brave enough to risk it all, and that's an amazing thing." It most certainly is.
Tell Us: Do you think the couples made the right calls?
Married at First Sight airs on FYI on Tuesdays at 9 p.m. EST.
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